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HSTEU 401 A: The Italian Renaissance:

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SMI 115
Mary O'Neil
Mary O'Neil

Syllabus Description:

HSTEU401                             RENAISSANCE ITALY                                 Prof. Mary O’Neil                        Office Smith 212A

Prof. O’Neil Office Hours: Weds 1:30-3:20 pm and by appointment at other times. Always glad to meet.
Course web page: - consult web page for lecture outlines.

Books ordered at University Bookstore (will also be put on reserve at OUGL)
Lisa Kaborycha, A Short History of Renaissance Italy
Gene Brucker (ed) Two Memoirs of Renaissance Florence: Diaries of Buonaccorso Pitti and Gregorio Dati
Gene Brucker, Renaissance Florence  on-line version via UW Libraries

           This book was not ordered at UBS but you can purchase it easily on line at or Amazon.
Lauro Martines, A Renaissance Sextet: Six Tales in Historical Context
Leon Battista Alberti, The Family in Renaissance Florence: Book Three, edited by Renee Neu Watkins

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince: Norton Critical Edition
                  This edition contains a selection of Machiavelli's letters, sections from the Discourses on Livy
                   and other critical essays which will be assigned. If you have a different edition of The Prince,

                   I can arrange for these materials  to be placed on e-reserve.  Let me know.
Xeroxed selection of required readings available in Wk 2, either as links or in Xerox packet for purchase.

Recommended: Boccaccio Decameron: Penguin or any edition; there is an older translation available
                          on-line at Gutenberg Project   

Further reading for advanced students (not required).  Graduate level bibliography available on request.
Daniel Waley, The Italian City Republics; Lauro Martines, Power & Imagination  City States in Ren. Italy

** Course Requirements:  all assignments must be completed to pass this course. **

 Attendance at lectures, participation in class discussions   plus   2 one page response papers 10%
            Response papers should be a brief, one page statement about reading assigned for a given day. 
            Please turn in one before the midterm and one after. Hand in only one page, double space or
1.5 spacing at minimum.  If you go over one page, print double sided. You may focus on any aspect

            of the assigned reading. .The purpose is  to raise questions about the reading for discussion.
Discussion days are marked with ** in the syllabus.     Response papers may be  typed or         
handwritten (but not in pencil).  They will be graded +, √  or  —  (= plus, check or minus).  

Short paper due Tues April 17 4-5 pages: 20%
            Instructions for first paper included with syllabus  Late papers  marked down -.1 per day overdue. Midterm Exam April 26 Thursday in class
Longer paper due Tuesday May 7-10 pages: due Tuesday in class.   Topics will be posted.
Final exam:.    Assigned time is Friday of exam week.  We will schedule an earlier time to be arranged.

Schedule of lectures and readings:  Readings listed for a specific day should be done before the lecture.

Wk I: Introduction:
Tu 3/27      Was there a Renaissance?  1) Jakob Burckhardt and the Medievalists
                             2) Dante, medieval Italy & the origins of the Italian Renaissance

Th 3/29    The Rise of the Communes to the 14th Century
                 Slides: Architecture in Dante's Florence: Baptistery, Campanile, Bargello   
                 Reading: Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy, Ch. 1, pp. 2-18
Tu 4/3       Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio   and Giotto da Bondone
                  The Black Plague of 1348: Economic & Social Effects
                  Reading:  Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy, Ch. 2, pp. 21-35
    **            Boccaccio, Preface to the Decameron on Plague in Florence
                         Available on line at:


HSTEU401 page 2

Th 4/5    Florentine & Venetian Republics:  Aristocrats, merchants, office holders
                Reading: David Herlihy, Article on Family, pp. 1-13 in Xerox packet
                                Brucker, Renaissance Florence, Chap. 2, The Economy, pp. 51-88               
**              In class discussion: Diary of Gregorio Dati, ppp. 107-141 in
                                Gene Brucker, Two Memoirs of Renaissance Florence

Wk III   Reading:  Kaborycha, Short History of Ren Italy, Ch. 3, pp 38-55; Ch 4, pp 58-71; Ch. 6, pp 100-108

Tu 4/10    14th C: Republics vs signorie or despotisms: Milan, Venice, Siena
                 SLIDES: Venice and Siena: Lorenzetti, Allegories of Good & Bad Government
    **          In class discussion of: Diary of Buonaccorso Pitti, in
                               Brucker Two Memoirs of Renaissance Florence

Th 4/12   Office holding: citizen ambition in the republic
**                    In class discussion Martines, Renaissance Sextet, Ch. 4, Bianco Alfani  
               Petrarch and the origins of Italian humanism
**                     In class discussion of Petrarch selections in Xerox packet:
                                                             Letters & Ascent of Mount Ventoux 

Tu 4/17    First short paper due Tuesday 4/17 at lecture

Wk IV     READING:      Kaborycha, Short History of Ren Italy, Ch. 6, section on Medici pp. 108-116.
                                       Brucker, Renaissance Florence, Ch 1, 1-50, Ch 4, pp. 128-171
                                       Vespasiano, Lives of Cosimo & Strozzi  (in Xerox packet)

Tu 4/17      Florence before the Medici: Ciompi Revolt 1378 to War with Milan 1402
                                                                 Civic Humanism: Salutati & Bruni
                   Slides: Early 15th C. Art & Architecture in Florence: Massaccio, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi

Th 4/19   Cosimo di Medici: Politics & Patronage
:  Medici building and art projects: Gozzoli frescoes

                  Reading: Brucker, Renaissance Florence, Ch 6, Culture, pp. 213-255
    **            In class discussion:  Xerox packet -- Vespasiano, Lives of Cosimo & Strozzi

Wk V         Reading:
Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy, Ch. 5, pp. 80-97
Coluccio Salutati, Declamation of Lucretia (with Livy’s version in xerox packet)

                               Letters of Alessandra Strozzi: in  Xerox packet:
                               Riciarda by Giovanni Gheradi, in Martines, Renaissance Sextet, Ch 1, pp. 19-35

Tu 4/24         The Second Medici: Piero di Cosimo, il Gottoso (1464- 1469) 
                      Women in Florence: Alessandra Strozzi and her exiled family
                           In-class discussion:  
Documents on women listed above: Salutati, Storzzi & Riciarda

Th 4/26         MIDTERM EXAM IN CLASS: (bring bluebooks)

Reading for Midterm: Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy
                         Gene Brucker, Two Memoirs of Renaissance Florence

                         Gene Brucker, Renaissance Florence, Ch 1-4, pp 51-171, Ch 6 pp. 213-255

                        Xerox Packet: Gordon Griffiths article on city states
                           Selections from Petrarch, Salutati on Lucretia,
                            David Herlihy, "Family in Renaissance Florence"
                            Strozzi letters, Biography of Cosimo

            Topics: Rise of the Italian city states through 15th C    (republics/tyrannies)
                         Humanism: Petrarch, & Civic Humanism (Salutati, Bruni)
                         Economy/Society: Family structure, Plague, Aristocrats vs Merchants

                                                                                                                 HSTEU401 page 3

Wk VI            Lorenzo the Magnificent: also Leonardo da Vinci in Florence, Milan, and Rome              
                      Reading:  Brucker Renaissance Florence Ch 7, pp. 256-280
                                       Kaborycha, Short History of Ren Italy, Ch. 9 pp. 164-167; 171-181; Ch 10, 207-208

Tu 5/1            In-class discussion:  Social Hierarchies and Urban Rivalries
                       Martines, Renaissance Sextet, Ch 2, Scopone by Gentile Sermini, pp. 39-68

                          (Optional: Ch 5, Giacopo, by Lorenzo dei Medici, pp 144-167)  

Th 5/3            Renaissance Individualism?  Humanism Self Fashioning versus Group Identity
                        Reading:  Brucker Renaissance Florence Ch 5, pp. 172-212
                        In-class discussion:
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, On the Dignity of Man in Xerox packet

                         Antonio Manetti, The Fat Woodcarver, in Martines, Renaissance Sextet, Ch 6, pp. 171-241
Tu 5/8             Family in Renaissance Florence 

                         SLIDES: Images of Women in Renaissance Art
**                       Reading: David Herlihy, The Family in Renaissance Florence ( in xerox packet)
                                          Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy, Ch. 4, pp. 71-74 on Alberti
                          In class discussion: 
Leon Battista Alberti, On the Family, Book 3

                               Boccaccio, Decameron, Nastagio degli Onesti, Day 5, 8th story ((in Xerox packet)
                                     “               “                Griselda, Day 10, 10th story (in Xerox packet)

Th 5/10            Savonarola,  the Republic of 1494 and Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope
                         Reading:  Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy, Ch. 10, pp. 184-197
    **                  In class discussion:   Machiavelli as Diplomat,
                                 Letters from Camp of Cesare Borgia, in Adams, pp 75-88

Wk VIII             1497-1512:  Machiavelli, the Florentine Republic and Medici Restoration
Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy, Ch. 10, pp. 197-203

Tu 5/15     **   Political theory from Augustine to the Humanists:
                       In class discussion:  The Prince, Part I, Ch 1-13, pp 4-40 in Adams edition

Th 5/17    **    The European Context of Italian Wars: 1494-1530
                       In class discussion: 
The Prince, Part II, Ch 14- 26, pp 40-72 in Adams edition

Wk IX             From Florence to Rome: 
Tu 5/22           Julius II, the Warrior Pope:   SLIDES: Michelangelo and Raphael

                       Reading:  Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy, Ch 11, pp. 213-221
                       In class discussion:  Selections of Mach’s Discourses on Livy, Adams pp. 89-188
                                                             Machiavelli’s Private Letters, Adams, pp 123-131
Th 5/24          Princely Courts:  Mantua and Urbino; Castiglione’s The Courtier
                     Reading:  Kaborycha, Short History of Ren, Ch. 11, pp. 209-211; Ch 12, pp. 232-236, 237-238
                     In class discussion:  Giovanni della Casa, Galateo (in xerox packet)


Wk X             Reading:  Kaborycha, Short History of Renaissance Italy, Ch 12, pp. 224-232
Tu 5/29            Rome: Medici Popes (Leo X and Clement VII) and  The Sack of Rome 1527
Th 5/31            Rome and Italy after 1530  SLIDES: 16th C. Rome – the City after the Sack
                       In class discussion: Review for final     

FINAL EXAM SCHEDULE: class will be consulted on this schedule
Early final time and place to be announced; I would prefer that everyone take the final before the
Regular final, scheduled for Friday March 16, Smith 304, 2:30-4:20 PM

Catalog Description: 
Conditions of Renaissance culture: Italian republics and despots, humanism, the classical ideal of the arts, Machiavelli and the foundations of modern political thought; the end of an era.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:07pm